LONDON (Reuters) - The dust has barely settled since their French Open final scrap but Maria Sharapova fired the first volley at Wimbledon title rival Serena Williams on Saturday, taking aim at the American’s personal life.
Sharapova, who lost for the 13th time in a row to Williams when they clashed at Roland Garros a fortnight ago, could not resist when asked her opinion on her rival’s controversial comments on a high-profile teenage rape case in Ohio published in Rolling Stone magazine.
“Obviously I have a tremendous amount of respect for Serena and what she’s achieved on the court. You can never take anything away from that,” 2004 Wimbledon champion Sharapova told reporters.
“I was definitely sad to hear what she had to say about the whole case.”
Williams has since apologized after quotes attributed to her suggested the victim had been drunk.
In the same article Williams also apparently referred to Sharapova’s relationship with Bulgarian player Grigor Dimitrov.
Russian Sharapova responded on Saturday.
“As for myself, or whether it was about somebody else, nothing personal, you know,” Sharapova told reporters.
“At the end of the day, we have a tremendous amount of respect for what we do on the court. I just think she should be talking about her accomplishments, her achievements, rather than everything else that’s just getting attention and controversy.
“If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids.
“Talk about other things, but not draw attention to other things. She has so much in her life, many positives, and I think that’s what it should be about.”
Defending Wimbledon champion Williams is set to hold her pre-Wimbledon press conference on Sunday.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Toby Davis